Thursday, January 31, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Rick Redbeard

He may not be recognised as international indie royalty, but for many listeners Rick Anthony's rich baritone ranks side-by-side with the Matt Berningers and Stephin Merritts among the finest in the game. Generally recognised as the voice of Glasgow's criminally underrated Phantom Band, that deep Scottish brogue is now being applied to a folky solo guise under the moniker Rick Redbeard, the fruits of which dropped earlier this week in the form of debut LP No Selfish Heart. It may have taken eight years to materialise, but it's fair to say the end product has been more than worth the wait; with themes of love, nature and solitude providing a constant source of beauty throughout its 10 tracks. Whether it's the heartbreaking piano-led melancholy of 'We All Float' or the weathered traditionalism of 'Kelvin Grove,' each one emits the type of hearty radiance present in all great folk music, a trait sure to snag any who happen upon this under-the-radar gem.   

Album Review: Flux Pavilion - Blow The Roof

Album Rating: C
It hurts to write this, but I have to say it: Flux Pavilion's new EP is bad. There's no way around it. It's especially difficult to say it because I'm a longtime fan of Flux. His Lines In Wax EP was one of the first full releases I could call my own - as a member of the influx of electronic music fans in the so-called "EDM revolution" in America, Flux Pavilion was one of the first producers I discovered. Though my previous experience in electronic music had consisted almost entirely of Skrillex, The Crystal Method's Vegas, and Pendulum's Immersion, Flux Pavilion (a.k.a. Joshua Steele) was willing to show me the proverbial way. He introduced me to a world full of great music about which I never would have dreamed before. Lines In Wax was one of the first stepping stones on my admittedly short path into electronic music, and for that I feel a great sense of obligation to Flux Pavilion. After all, though in retrospect Lines In Wax was decent at best, the joy I felt listening to it the first few times was incredible, and I greedily tore into the rest of the electronic music out there afterwards. Plus, I respect Steele as a person - through the two AMAs (interview-type forum threads) on Reddit he's done since he made it big, he's garnered my admiration as a humble man who works hard on every endeavor he undertakes.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Punch

San Francisco's heavy-hitting hardcore band Punch is not afraid of brevity. The five-piece have released several EPs and full-lengths over the past few years, with the average song clocking in at around a minute and a half of less. With a thrashy, heavy sound complete with raspy screams, Punch stick close to their hardcore roots while taking the genre into an even faster, less melodic composition. Despite their short length, the songs Punch have created progress from one sound to another, from one riff into a breakdown. With point-blank, honest lyrics and a headstrong perseverance, Punch have thrust themselves into the spotlight as they continue to tour around the world.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Album Review: Widowspeak - Almanac

Album Rating: B
There’s something inherently beautiful about seeing someone catch their stride. As a group, Widowspeak did their fair share of stumbling on their self-titled 2011 debut. If you missed it, don’t feel too bad. It was unobtrusive, comprised mostly of Suburu-commercial indie pop that didn’t give much but didn’t ask much in return. In essence, it took the '60s girl-group sound and stuck it in a cave. It was three parts dull, one part promise. Most of all, it was oh-so-Brooklyn, reflecting the echo-prone, flavorless trends of New York's grandest borough. On their second attempt, Almanac, Widowspeak have wizened up and brought it all back home. 

Artist of the Day: Neat Beats

Does meaningful music have to be orchestrated with a white knuckle grip? Neat Beats answers this question with a resounding no, but don't get the wrong impression. After all, Cosmic Surgery - the instrumental hip-hop producer's only release thus far - is still very methodically planned. The album just flows, though, and that's the biggest reason why I've only been listening to Neat Beats this past week. The percussion is simple but memorable, the eclectic samples work ridiculously well, and the nods to classical music make the experience worthwhile. Check out Cosmic Surgery here if you haven't already, or follow Neat Beats on Facebook.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Artist of the Day: Action Bronson

I’ve already discussed my love for Ghostface Killah on this website, so it’s only natural that I fell for Action Bronson when I heard him for the first time, guesting on A$AP Rocky’s gang track “1 Train.” To say he resembles Ghostface would be a gross understatement, the two are essentially identical twins born 11 years apart. Between the lyrical similarities and a voice and delivery that are easily interchangeable, Action Bronson, who also cites Kool G Rap as one of his favorite rappers, seems destined for greatness in the rap scene.

Album Review: Stuart Warwick - The Butcher's Voice

Album Rating: B+
In a review for Perfume Genius’ 2012 release Put Ur Back N 2 It, I ran against the grain by dismissing the album as emotionally hollow. To summarise an old review that hasn’t been re-read, the sophomore effort tended to dive for old tricks assigned to typically “sad” albums in what could easily have been a fevered scramble to match his debut (read: to imitate genuine suffering). The internet disagreed: undermining what was otherwise a perfectly mediocre review and forcing me to wait for an excuse to reinforce my opinion. Despite introducing itself with what might be the most off putting album cover of the year - keeping in mind the fact it’s only January - The Butcher’s Voice provides this excuse. Inviting comparisons with a lone male voice on top of a minimalist emotional backing, though concerning himself more with intimacy that emotion, Stuart Warwick perfectly displays the power of a particularly human approach to songwriting.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Album Review: Ex Friends - Twisted Around

Album Rating: A-
As is true with most music, it's possible to make a lot of wild guesses about the deeper meanings hidden within Twisted Around. Ex Friends could be commenting on the live-fast, die-hard nature of punk music with five songs that, back to back, take less than nine minutes to blaze through. It's entirely possible that the band is concerned with today's racial stereotypes, as we can arguably see from the repeated line "Waiting for the world to see you in your full complexity" in the opening track "Model Minority." Based on this interpretation, it seems the song as a whole might be a bold statement which attempts to bridge gaps between racial groups and let every group be seen in a full, three-dimensional light. Maybe "West Chester Nuclear Winter," a cover of lead singer Joel Tannenbaum's old band Plow United, is a bittersweet display of emotion regarding the hiatus of Plow United (and the band's subsequent reuniting) and how this affects the present and future of Ex Friends. One can also try to come up with numerous interpretations of the two lines of "Vexed Question" - "You've been tested, and been found wanting / you better try again." What kind of testing did the subject go through, what does he want, how can he try again? It can be understood in so many different ways, all of which may hold some value.

Artist of the Day: Paper Route

There are some songs that just burrow into your brain the moment you hear them: something in them is just so vital, more often than not you'll find yourself buried under your sheets at five in the morning playing that one song on repeat. For a brief period of time between late September and early October, my song was "Calm My Soul," the closer of Paper Route's second album The Peace Of Wild Things. This song, however, was clearly built to last--it's January, and I keep going back to the song in the hopes that maybe this time everything will align, I'll finally be at peace, and I can finally move on to something else.

But I'm not so lucky; I hit the repeat button. The music floods my ears. I'm not an inch closer to understanding.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Artist of the Day: Kattoo

German electronic wizard Kattoo first caught my attention as one half of the incredibly brilliant and criminally ignored duo Beefcake, who's masterpiece, Drei, is just as good as it is hard to find in a physical format. Produced in the closing hours of the late 90's IDM circlejerk, Drei embodied much of the eclecticism and flamboyancy celebrated in that era: darting effortlessly between techno, glitch and classical with a keen eye on the celestial. Kattoo brought much of this into his solo work post-Beefcake, even bringing in more ambient elements; although these remained elements as a track was never allowed to stay still for long. While some of the magic was lost with the end of the duo, his work always managed to retain a remarkable amount of polish.

The recent unveiling of Motu - which I struggle to admit came as a bit of a surprise - is very welcome, then, but to see the tag of "dubstep" associated with the album was disheartening. In reality, this turned out not to be much of an issue. Kattoo plays around with the kind of industrial bass employed by the likes of Noisia in the foreground and often shifts the beat emphasis closer to what's conventionally considered as dubstep-esque, but he plays the rest incredibly safe. The space-y humm is more than present, as well as his tried-and-tested palette of percussion. It leaves an interesting taste, though I have to admit that maybe it might not quite be up to his previous work, but only just. Nevertheless, it's well worth checking out if only for the moments - if not tracks - of utter brilliance. I'll certainly keep this spinning for a few more days; it seems like a grower.

Like Kattoo on Facebook.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Munchi

Moombahton is one of those genres whose existence is highly disputed. Considered by many to be one of the ill effects of the "EDM revolution" in America, opinion on the name is split between people who accept it without question as a legitimate genre of music and people who would just as soon call it "electro house with reggaeton influences." While I'm not going to get into the whole argument for or against the genre (though personally I think it's a perfectly acceptable term - why use "electro house with reggaeton influences" when "moombahton" exists to describe that? Isn't that the point?), I can say one thing: the music within the disputed genre is really, really fun. Munchi is probably the foremost example of exactly how fun that music can be, and the success he's seen stems from his skill within a reggaeton beat. His remix of Skrillex's "Ruffneck (Full Flex)" is honestly incredible, and it's really anything anyone would want from a "dance" song like it is - it makes people dance. He's got quite a few other great songs - his remix of "Tommy's Theme" by Noisia, basically anything off his Moombahtonista EP, and more - and all of them show the power of the questionable genre of moombahton. Whether you love the term, hate the term, or have no opinion, you're sure to find Munchi a delight.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Big Awesome

The departure of Algernon Cadwallader left an enormous hole in the modern emo scene that has been growing more prominent by the day. I was at that show and can vouch that emotions were running high, especially as the band ended their set. Luckily, we have Big Awesome to fill the void left for us by Algernon. Their latest EP Birdfeeder both shows off their love for Algernon as well as the advances that they personally brought to that sound. Opener "Grey's Birthday" is the most obviously influenced track, from the dual vocalled shouts to the melodies that could have absolutely been on Parrot Flies. The biggest surprise that Big Awesome brings is the recording quality of the EP. The record just sounds very full, and in a genre that thrives on minimal production, it feels like a fresh sound. Download the EP for free on their Bandcamp page, and be sure to order the 7" right here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Artist of the Day: And So I Watch You From Afar

Post-rock doesn't have to be predictable. Granted, I'm not too well-versed in the genre, but many of my experiences with Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai and other "top-tier" post-rock artists have led me feeling a little disenchanted with the genre. This is precisely why my time with And So I Watch You From Afar, as brief as it has been, has changed my perception of the genre as a whole.

Interview With Gifts From Enola (12/17/12)

Gifts From Enola isn't the relatively cookie-cutter post-rock band they used to be in their early years. The band has transformed with every album, peaking with their latest effort A Healthy Fear. The record uses vocals far more predominantly than before and you won't find any big crescendos, but you will find some fantastic musicianship and powerful, chaotic blasts of sound. The band sat down with us at MuzikDizcovery to discuss A Healthy Fear, the transformation from their early stage to their present form, their favorites of 2012, and much, much more that you can read below. 

Album Review: Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse

Album Rating: A-
Scott Hutchinson has earned his stripes as a candid, emotionally connected songwriter, and one need only read a handful of interviews to realise he scarcely differs away from the mic. Quizzed by my local freebie NARC concerning his band's relocation to major label Atlantic, the Frightened Rabbit mainman uttered a typically frank response, admitting "when you sign for a major label you do it for a reason; you want to further your career. We're not going to deny that." Commendable though they wore, those words were only eclipsed for fans by claims their imminent fourth album would evoke the bleak lyrical intensity of The Midnight Organ Fight, not to mention that it'd also mark their first foray into group-orientated songwriting - a significant development for an outfit which essentially began as its frontman's pet project.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Compilation Spotlight: Talents LP Vol. 1

I'm not entirely sure how to introduce the Talents LP Vol. 1. On a factual level, it's true the compilation is made up of 10 neurofunk drum & bass tracks from up-and-coming neurofunk producers, presented jointly by major neurofunk label Ammunition Recordings and major neurofunk YouTube promotion channel NeurofunkGrid. And, to be fair, I could just leave it at that, but that doesn't encompass the whole scope of a fantastic neurofunk compilation such as this one - it's more than just another 10 tracks of techy, spastic drums and the same damn modulated synth line every time. On a more opinionated front, I could also say it's one of the best releases in the genre in a while. Which is true - sure, none of the producers quite have the skill or experience of the absolute legends like Noisia or Ed Rush & Optical, but all ten tracks here are quite impressive. They're at least forward thinking, not falling into over-trodden territory like a lot of recent neurofunk has.

Artist of the Day: 10 Paces, Fire

Following up my 2012 top albums and EPs list, I wanted to make this post after I saw Twenty / Twelve come out last year; I didn't get around to it then, so I'm working on it now.

In 2010, 10 Paces, Fire shattered genre definition by releasing an album that was essentially progressive indie-rock fused with 90's emo, math rock, and post-rock, all with a solid vocal foundation. Released three years after their formation, Stop-Motion Recollections was a beautiful release that garnered them attention towards their sound, and helped them form their completely individualized niche in music. The album's sound was incredible - it struck deeper than emo on an emotional level, carried complexity matching up to any prog-rock band and sounded sincere and honest, much like any indie folk band would try to put forth on a record.

Album Review: Ra Ra Riot - Beta Love

Album Grade: C
The Tough Alliance’s album A New Chance opens with a call of “you were something special,” and it now seems as if the shout was directed at Ra Ra Riot. It’s nearly impossible for a band as neutral-sounding as Ra Ra Riot to jar the listener, but any fan will be shocked upon hearing Beta Love. The band had, for better or for worse, been known for its embrace of strings has all-but shed its chamber music influence. With a sound that was often more baroque than pop, Ra Ra Riot put a unique twist on otherwise traditional indie pop music. The band now uses Beta Love to transition away from their one trick pony status into a more keyboard driven group with the help of producer Dennis Herring, the same man who helped Modest Mouse transition into the mainstream back in 2004.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Alasdair Roberts

A staple since going solo in 2001, Alasdair Roberts nevertheless remains a relative underdog of Scotland's extensive folk scene. In a sense, you could even say his career to date has been that of a classic nearly-man, having attracted all but perennial acclaim yet little in the way of widespread recognition - aside from his home nation, where he's quite rightly a hugely respected cult figure. The fact the man from Callander has always been so defiantly unhip has, of course, played a considerable role in this pattern. Indeed when he's not reworking old folk numbers as on excellent records such as No Earthly Man and Too Long In This Condition, he's seemingly crafting his own future standards; a process once more exemplified on latest LP A Wonder Working Stone. His first collection of originals in four years, it's a set which ticks practically every box one would associate with Roberts' music, being as it is both steeped in tradition and a pouring with passion - the 'friends' referenced on its cover as ever providing more than capable backing. It's not about to herald a belated breakthrough, though given he's so entrenched in his own fruitful niche you sense that was never really an objective.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Crystal Castles

In a world where electro-pop has inundated the masses, you can always count on the gloomy electronic duo Crystal Castles to deliver something completely fresh and different. After forming in 2004 and releasing a handful of tracks which quickly became viral, Crystal Castles' debut self-titled album was released to rave reviews. In mid-2010, the band followed up with another self-titled album now known as Crystal Castles (II). The band has played hundreds of shows and festivals, showcasing their musical talents and accompanying them with absolutely chaotic live performances. Towards the end of 2012, their new album Crystal Castles (III) was released, featuring a more atmospheric sound complete with reverb and crooned vocals. Despite the emergence of mainstream electro-pop and indie artists in the past several years, Crystal Castles remains one of the most prominent and talented electronic projects today.

Album Review: The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law

Album Rating: B-
I must admit, I feared for The Joy Formidable towards the end of the Big Roar cycle. It might have began with a sea of critical acclaim and a thoroughly impressive debut LP, but come the end of 2011 the Welsh trio were visibly and audibly floundering; their live shows grinding to stagnation as month upon month wringing the same 10 or so songs gradually took its toll. The enthusiasm remained, but it was patently obvious the band was approaching burnout, with the million dollar question being whether or not they could pick up the pieces ahead of their eagerly awaited comeback. Try though it does (oh, it really does try...), Wolf's Law is a record which fails to provide concrete answers - a curious document of an outfit who are thriving commercially but toiling in practically every other aspect.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Live Review: Kendrick Lamar, O2 Academy, Newcastle, 1/15/2013

Kendrick Lamar may be in the midst of his first ever U.K. tour, but for many it already seems as though the 25-year-old has nothing left to prove. His are of course exceptional circumstances - what with the stream of acclaim and accolades launched in his direction these past few months - so it was inevitable that expectations were high among those who packed the floor of Newcastle's sold out O2 Academy. It said a lot, then, that the Compton native's hour and a quarter onstage proved anything but an anti-climax; his performance catered to every section of his following and all but confirmed his status as hip-hop's hottest current property.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Artist of the Day: Lymbyc Systym

Yeah, I'm totally sorry. Today's Artist of the Day post is going to be more like 250 words of bragging. Because electronic-pop-rock hybrid Lymbyc Systym (it's a mouthful, but it's as close to an accurate description as you'll get in this write-up) is one of my favorite bands of all-time, and I got to go see them in Korea last Saturday. AND THEY WERE AWESOME.

But here we go.

Album Review: Venna - Third Generation Hymnal

Album Rating: B
"I am content with wanting."

So goes the refrain to "Married," which opens folk duo (and real-life married couple Heather and Marky Hladish) Venna's second release (and first in five years), Third Generation Hymnal. Yet as gloomy as that phrase may sound on paper, the mantra is a succinct summation of what makes this album so refreshing: the album's simple, intimate tunes may sound welcoming, but the delightfully complex sentiments within elevate this release from folk-by-the-numbers into a thoughtful and even liberating treatise on what it means to love.

Album Retrospective: Cardiacs - On Land And In The Sea

Album Rating: A-
Let's not beat around the bush: On Land and in the Sea is a weird album. It takes relatively normal musical elements - constant tempos, 4/4 time, keys that are defined firmly as major or minor - and essentially throws them out the window in favor of an art-rock style that's sure to ruffle a few feathers. Songs like "The Stench of Honey" and "Two Bites Of Cherry" employ rapid tempo and meter shifts with no warning, relying on staccato guitar chords to anchor the song rather than the drums. "Horsehead" is ominous with its alternating male-female vocals, both with an incredibly strong British accent, over a creaking, whirring beat and psychedelic piano line, an ordeal that lasts for less than a minute and a half but makes its presence felt over its entire runtime. "The Everso Closely Guarded Line," as the title might suggest, is an exceedingly odd song, mostly staying in 6/8 but changing up its tempo at unexpected times. What really makes it weird, though, is the cacophony of instruments that surround the song - organ, synth, strings, and some sort of percussive instrument like a xylophone, a baby's cry and other similar instruments surround the song's art-rock core.

Album Review: Lights & Motion - Reanimation

Album Rating: A
From fledgling startup Aerials to Deep Elm signed project Lights & Motion, Christoffer Franzén has been through a lot trying to release his music to the public. However, there's a certain satisfaction in having discovered the project when he was releasing demo tracks on his SoundCloud, and helping nurture and provide attention for the guy until he was finally noticed. And being noticed allowed Franzén to focus his sound and perfect exactly what he wanted to perfect, because L&M's debut is stunningly spectacular. Reanimation is the ultimate cinematic post-rock record, combining beautiful layers, powerful and meaningful melodic lines, and an ethereal feel that drives home the statement Lights & Motion has to offer: "I'm here, and I'm a musical force to contend with."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Artist of the Day: Four Tet

Despite the fate of many of his 90's-electronic-minded contemporaries, Four Tet has managed to hold onto both (a) a consistent release schedule and (b) a lot of the quality that he so devilishly displayed at the turn of the century. Nevertheless, the release of a new LP following the ever promising "I'm going to release an LP today" post to his Facebook page will bring back a lot of the creative joy not seen since his earlier releases. 0181 is a collection of tracks plucked from the 1997-2001 vault, so as such reflects style that he's since moved away from. What the listener yet uneducated in the world of Four Tet will find is quite a lot of jazz, or at least that mindset. Time signatures are played around with liberally, and it's not unusual to hear a bit of brass thrown in to the mix. Beyond this you'll hear a strong influence of that ever contentious brand of 90's braindance: an eternal signature of the veteran producer. Everything is coloured by a deeply playful vibe, even when the album chooses to give respite in its 40 minute duration to something more low-key. It really is a fantastic listen despite not previously considered for release.

The album can be streamed and downloaded (for free) on Soundcloud.
Like Four Tet on Facebook!

Album Review: L. Pierre - The Island Come True

Album Rating: B+
Given he's best known for his time in Arab Strap and an acclaimed collaboration with Bill Wells, it's perhaps understandable that some casual observers mistake Aidan John Moffat for a one trick pony. That, of course, isn't to say he's not the master of his own little niche. Weathered and bedraggled, the Falkirk native's thick regional drawl has been all but ever present in the past two decades of Scottish music, his often peerless lyricism lending an insight into one of the most relatable and entertaining minds modern music has to offer. Whether he's fronting one of the aforementioned projects, lesser known guises or even mumbling over old Mogwai records, each and every broad utterance has contributed to a continuous trail of excellence, albeit one that's done little to dispel the odd dismissive rumble.

Album Review: A$AP Rocky- LongLiveA$AP

Grade: A-
After A$AP Rocky’s electrifying debut dropped in 2011, it seemed as though a sophomore slump was inevitable. The sheer quality of the first album combined with the massive failure that was A$AP Mob’s Lords Never Worry, which featured lazy verses from Rocky himself, seemed to only lend credence to the slump theory and the frequent delays in release (all the way from September 2012 to now) had fans questioning why the album was trapped in purgatory, and whether it would see the light of day at all. With the deadline issue now resolved the biggest question remaining is: can A$AP build off of his well-laid foundation, in a Kendrick Lamar-type manner? Or was Clams Casino- who only produced 2 songs on LongLiveA$AP- the true reason for LiveLoveA$AP’s success?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Chroma

Although they are a supergroup of sorts, Chroma hasn't suffered through most of the problems associated with most supergroups in the music world. The drum & bass trio (Phobia, Sato and Tyrone) hailing from the Northeast U.K., Chroma has had an impressive slew of releases in their two years of existence. They've released on huge labels like Renegade Hardware, Commercial Suicide, and most recently Ram Records' fantastic sublabel Program Music, and they've come out with some seriously good tunes over their short lifetime. Of special note is "So Alone," one of the best DnB songs of 2012 in this humble reviewer's opinion, which is a rolling, driving monster of a tune. It's soulful, with its melancholy synth lines and its reggae-styled vocal sample, but at the same time it's got brutal drums and a wicked bassline that mesh perfectly with the soul stylings of the rest of the piece. Chroma is going to be a name to watch in the future, and with a track set to be released on a new Renegade Hardware EP alongside the likes of genre legends BTK and Cern, it's clear that big things are already coming to the trio.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Copeland

If I could choose one band to fall in love with earlier than I actually did, Copeland would likely be my choice. It's an enormous regret of mine that I didn't really get into the band until the middle of last year, nearly three years after the band parted ways. The worst part about the breakup was that Copeland is a band which had improved dramatically with every album, transforming from the raw, relatively simplistic Beneath Medicine Tree to the gorgeously arranged You Are My Sunshine. However, it may very well be Aaron Marsh's vocal growth that launched the band to a new level. His impeccable control of his upper registers as well as the ability to sustain notes put him near (if not at) the top of vocalists in the scene. When also considering his songwriting and lyrical skills, he was one of the best frontmen out there. Marsh hasn't disappeared completely, singing on songs by Sleeping With Sirens, The Morning Of, and Fair (amongst others) and producing a couple records. Marsh is also part of a group called The Lulls In Traffic, but the band has done pretty much nothing since their formation. However, let's hope for new Marsh material this year, whether it's The Lulls In Traffic, guest vocals on tracks or even another new band. The band's second best album Eat, Sleep, Repeat will be released on vinyl in March, so keep your eyes out for that.

Album Review: Terra Terra Terra - The Space We Create

Album Rating: B
Although the recording of an album is usually a long, grueling process, as a music fan it can be tough to understand what the average group is going through when they put in long week after long week in the studio, making sure the final product gleams. The idea of recording the same part over and over again for hours on end is something that has to be experienced to fully understand, and as a listener who will typically listen to an album for less total time than a full day of recording for that album that concept is a tricky one to comprehend. We often barely bat an eye when an artist releases three albums in as many years, and we react similarly when a group takes five years to make sure their final product is exactly right. So, when Terra Terra Terra advertises their new album, The Space We Create, as a process that has taken a year and a half to "bubble up into fruition," it's tough not to ask, "So what?" The whole idea of the "12-hour studio days" which Terra Terra Terra put in to ensure the best album possible seems almost cliché because it feels like it's something any artist could do, and it doesn't really separate Terra Terra Terra from the other pop rockers out there.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Album Review: This Town Needs Guns -

Album Rating: A-
This Town Needs Guns are releasing their newest outing at the perfect time. The math-rock group's latest release is named after the Mayan prophesies, and comes from the civilization's idea of the world truly beginning once 13 b’ak’tuns (periods of time containing 144,000 days each) have been completed. What great timing, too, because this concept is where the infamous Mayan prophesies of 2012 came from. comes out right on the heels of the debacle, and intentional or not, the inherent connection gives This Town Needs Guns' latest record a more meaningful context.

Live Review: Richard Dawson, The Head Of Steam, Newcastle, 1/4/2013

I'm too wrapped up in rigid routines to make any meaningful New Year's resolutions, so most of my pledges for 2013 bear a distinct theme of continuation. Among them is my will to catch as much live music as feasibly possible, a quest which began last Friday in the familiar setting of Newcastle's Head Of Steam, with a lineup consisting of two of the region's more promising up-and-coming acts alongside the slightly more established creature that is Richard Dawson. Grander, more prestigious events may lie in wait during the next 12 months, though as this gig proved the notion of a low-key, intimate performance can be a difficult one to beat.

Interview With Young Statues (12/19/12)

Young Statues' quick ascent as a band may seem surprising, but under close examination it makes perfect sense. While the band doesn't fit under the usual Run For Cover umbrella, they still can appeal to the kids looking for something a little more laid back and are a very accessible gateway between many genres of music. The band has also been lucky enough to be associated with some very well musical figures such as Ace Enders and Joseph Marro of The Early November, and promotion from them will do nothing but bring them a very solid fanbase. On one of the last few shows of their tour with The Dangerous Summer, the band gratefully sat down with us to take some questions regarding topics such as their recently released cover EP and the expectations that came with its release, a brand new EP with Ace Enders, their feelings on the differences between their sound and related bands, and much more that you can read below.

Artist Of The Day: Gozu

Kick-ass stoner rock has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Whether it's Kyuss chugging out sludgy riffs, Red Fang LARPing on "Prehistoric Dog," or Priestess shredding on "Lay Down," it's always been a really fun genre. New England band Gozu is somewhat new on the scene (forming in 2008) but they've quickly made their mark. They've just released an excellent new album, "The Fury Of A Patient Man" on Small Stone Recordings that epitomizes everything I (and many others) like about stoner rock. "Irish Dart Fight" is a ridiculously catchy song with its straight-ahead drums and sludge-laden guitars, and it's a great example of what the band can do. Opener "Bald Bull" is one of the best songs on the album, mostly because stoner rock works really well in 6/8 time but also because its infectious power chords beg anyone listening to headbang right along. Plus, its solo shows off the chops of guitarist Doug Sherman, an excellent guitarist who fits the band perfectly. Gozu seems to be destined for great things, and they're a treat to listen to.

You can stream their new album on Bandcamp here.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Artist Of The Day: We Were Skeletons

Despite releasing an incredible album this past October, some may think that We Were Skeletons are the unsung heroes of Topshelf Records. Although they play a style of post-hardcore similar to much of Topshelf's roster, We Were Skeletons also blend groovy and twangy guitars reminiscent of many emo acts. The twinkle-core sound is unique, refreshing, abrasive, and astoundingly cohesive. Songs often focus around a heavy riff, which progress into a toned down, contemplative atmosphere accompanied by tight bass lines and head-bobbing drum beats. The resulting music is familiar, yet special; after a couple of listens, you'll wonder why you've never listened to the band before. Ultimately, you'll realize that We Were Skeletons released one of the best albums of 2012 and that the music is absolutely brilliant.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Broadcast

Among the most rewarding indie acts of the past decade, Broadcast's stint appeared to reach its conclusion in 2011 when vocalist Trish Keenan succumbed to pneumonia. At only 42 years age, her loss was as devastating as it was unexpected; a tragic full stop for a group and musician who still had so much left to give. Initially a quartet, the Birmingham-based outfit delivered four albums, seven EPs and two compilations between 1996 and 2009, winning praise aplenty from critics and simultaneously becoming one of the most beloved names of the UK's indie underground. Intended as a comeback after an atypical period of inactivity, the band had been working on a score to Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio before Kennan's passing left their plans in turmoil.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Scraps of Tape

Rarely has a band ever stuck to their sound as well as Scraps Of Tape. While the math-rock / post-rock band has added a larger emphasis on vocals in their more recent releases as well as producing higher-quality audio, the feel of each of their albums has been essentially the same. The core of the band's success is creating melodies to funky time signatures that attract the listener's ear and carry some emotional meaning with it; with four releases filling their repertoire, their most recent effort Resident Flux adds vocals to the already-proven formula and simply adds another dynamic layer to the intricate audio. The result is slightly easier for new listeners to relate to, but stays true to the band's original style.

This Is A Copy Is This A Copy (2007)
This record is a really fantastic record. The sound quality was increased from the debut tenfold, it features heavily emotional tracks that border on post-metal, and really marks a point of musical maturity for the band. They hit everything exactly right, "Death As It Should Be" introducing the album in an incredible way, the entirety of the album has powerful swells and depressingly moody dives, and it closes with a 10-minute emotional rollercoaster of a track, "Why Marcus Oh Why." The entire record is incredible and definitely warrants picking up and looking at.

You can look up the band's recent news and records on their website, and all of their records are on Spotify to stream for free!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Artist of the Day: This Town Needs Guns

This Town Needs Guns makes accessible math-rock. This is somewhat of a contradiction, since math rock is concerned with more complex musical practices, and this makes the British group's style surprising. How do their songs sound so comfortable, when they're constructed with the oddest time signatures in mind? It's a respectable skill this group has, and one you should acquaint yourself with if you haven't already.

A recommended starting point for This Town Needs Guns would be their latest record, Animals. The album contained many notable tracks, but perhaps the most memorable one is "26 Is Dancier Than 4." Check it out, and if you like what you hear, you should proceed to the rest of the album!

Album Review: Pianos Become The Teeth/Touché Amoré - Split

Album Review: A
Just barely past the first week of the new year, Touché Amoré and Pianos Become The Teeth came together to release the best music of their careers. Whereas Pianos Become The Teeth build upon their last release The Lack Long After by experimenting with cleaner vocals, Touché Amoré's side clocks in at a whopping 4 minutes and 8 seconds, nearly double the length of any of their previous songs. The split features the signature raw emotion that both bands focus so passionately on, then take it even further. There's no doubt that Touché and Pianos are some of the hottest bands in the post-hardcore scene right now, with this split acting as an example of just how they continue to push their own limits.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Artist of the Day: Glassjaw

It's not often that one finds a band making such radically aggressive yet technically proficient music as Glassjaw. Coming out of the rich Long Island scene, Glassjaw is easily recognizable by their combination of tight cymbal work, fast-paced guitars and Daryl Palumbo's hallmark vocals that combine to create one of the most memorable post-hardcore acts of the 2000s. Despite, or perhaps due to the band's internal issues- including disputes with their label Roadrunner Records, the near-constant lineup changes and Palumbo's Crohn's disease- they are able to unite under the same umbrella of organized chaos to make some of the least synchronous, best produced records ever released. Nearly everything about the band seems out of place: Palumbo's trademark sneer and aversion to harsh vocals are both unique for the scene, the guitar lines are reliant on high string riffs rather than the typical powerchord arrangements and a rhythm section that rarely provides actual rhythm.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Chris Commisso

Well, damn, this grin just might split my face into two.

For the unitiated, Chris Commisso is a pianist, singer-songwriter and pop powerhouse rolled into one irresistible ball of fun. According to his YouTube page, though, the guy has been through some tough times (including "a struggle with severe social phobia/anxiety disorder"), and his catchy tunes reflect a surprisingly complex and mature perspective. Look no further than his cover of Carly Rae Jepsen's "This Kiss" which trades in the unabashed euphoria of the source material for a more melancholy pining; Commisso's delicate voice wrings an essay's worth of subtext out of the couplet, "Some things so sentimental / You make so detrimental." As evidenced by his prolific and diverse body of work, his songwriting's a potent combination of both of those qualities.

Jukebox: Maduk - Feel Good

It's always nice to see a small artist who has always deserved more recognition "make it big." Maduk, a Dutch drum & bass producer, is one such artist. He's always had a devoted following - YouTube promotion channel Liquicity has promoted his stuff for a while now, and continues to do so here - but it's good to see he was snapped up by major DnB label Viper Recordings on their VIP imprint for new artists. He's been an incredible producer for quite some time now, as his song "Ghost Assassin" single-handedly caused one of my friends to change over entirely from playing multiplayer online video games to single-player games with worthwhile storylines thanks to the song's beautiful, shimmering portrayal of a portion of the Starcraft 2 story. No doubt, then, much of his fanbase is rejoicing at the release of his latest single at the hands of a big-name label.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Artist of the Day: Sangam

Since arriving on my radar late last year with a collaboration with Retral, Sangam's been supplying my ears with all sorts of ambient goodies. Not just your run-of-the-mill guitar drones stuff either, this relatively new producer is already far along the road to establishing his own style. Within the ethereal haze are subtle (but only very subtle) echoes of electronic and dubstep styles, which make for a much deeper, darker and more desolate mood. Recent single "Deadline" moves this back to a more smooth approach: emphasising the slow shift of drones behind drones instead of an atmosphere (such as in "Shattered Nights"). It's a direction I'm not too happy to see him go, as he risks collapsing into the tide of artists who already excel with basic drone ambient, but it's hard to gauge how one track will effect his progression as an artist.

Sangam's previous EP, We Cotched Under Stars, didn't quite make its way into my top 50 for 2012, but he's an artist I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for.

Listen on Soundcloud

Album Review: Chief Keef - Finally Rich

Album Rating: F
The title of Chief Keef’s freshman album implies something pre-determined. It speaks volumes about the 17-year-old’s attitude; it’s not that he, a lower-class teenager from the South Side of Chicago is rich, it’s that he’s finally rich- that this was always going to happen and it taking 17 years required too much patience. It’s an unorthodox attitude to have: his frequent run-ins with the law, including time spent under house arrest for weapons possession while under contract with Interscope, give the impression that he’s a loose cannon whose time spent in the trap has twisted him- an impression which certainly isn’t helped by songs like “Hate Being Sober.” From the outside, he appears to be the exact type of kid you wouldn’t want to be associated with but the implication of the title is this was always going to happen.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Artist Of The Day: 2NE1

With the boom of Korean pop has come a (not entirely undeserved) reactionary backlash deeming the genre vapid and facile; if acts like 2NE1 are any indication though, the screaming fans in the front rows aren’t entirely wrong. The group’s bouncy onomatopoeias and bounties of swagger belie music yielding dividends both sonically and emotionally.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Polyenso

I wrote about Oceana's efforts at using a Kickstarter to fund their latest album back in April, and we're now just starting to hear the results of this funding. However, the band is now going under the name Polyenso, a very valid change due to the enormous change in the band's sound since their early metalcore days. With the release of the first track from the band's upcoming record One Big Particular Loop, the band's transformation is completed. "Dog Radio" takes a lot from Radiohead's music, especially vocally. Vocalist Brennan Taulbee has changed his style immensely, even from the Clean Head days. He works far more in the falsetto, and sometimes sounds almost like a second Thom Yorke. The addition of trumpet in the band's recent live videos was one of the more exciting developments to look forward from this album, and its use on "Dog Radio" is nothing less than stunning. The band has made a complete leap across scenes, and it'll be interesting to see who One Big Particular Loop catches on with. You can stream "Dog Radio" here, and be on the lookout for more music from the band.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Album Review: Dropkick Murphys - Signed And Sealed In Blood

Album Rating: C+
It pains me to say it, but as a long-term, borderline obsessive fan I really don't see where Dropkick Murphys have left to go. An established stable of America's Celtic punk scene, the Bostoners have spent the past 17 years enhancing and arguably even defining the genre with the fine and thoroughly consistent reaches of their back catalogue. Hitting their stride in the early '00s, the seven-piece delivered a string of records in Sing Loud, Sing Proud! Blackout and The Warrior's Code which all but perfected their niche, with the latter achieving a level of commercial success only matched by subsequent outings. With that in mind, 2011's Going Out In Style stood as something of a final creative frontier; a relatively lavish concept album which, while not wholly removed from a musical perspective represented without doubt their most ambitious and expansive foray to date. It didn't quite belong in their top tier, but that wasn't so much an issue as the fact it left such little leeway regarding their next move.